What’s brewing

A threatened strike spurs change at the Hamline Starbucks.

Lydia Meier and Kayla Tester

Starbucks in Anderson Student Center sits closed. (chetha Ny)

The beginning of spring has brought birds and buds back to Hamline, and the campus Starbucks is welcoming the season with new drinks like the toasted vanilla oat milk shaken espresso, as well as some changes that go beyond the menu. 

In the past, baristas have expressed frustration with the busyness at the Hamline Starbucks, as well as the lack of tips. Katie Mikesell is a sophomore who worked at the Starbucks for two semesters before quitting.

 “I think the main reason why I left was because it was just too busy for me,” Mikesell said. “I just felt claustrophobic and overwhelmed.”

This semester, Hamline students have noticed inconsistent hours at the campus Starbucks in Anderson Center. This has been frustrating for many of these students. 

Hamline junior Miki Nakai is an international student from Japan. At Hamline, she resides on campus and has a meal plan with declining balance. She expressed disappointment at the Starbucks closures. 

“Especially for those who live in dorms, it is not fair that they have $400 DB [Declining Balance] and fewer options to spend it,” Nakai said.

Some students worry about staying awake or focusing throughout the day and use caffeine to help with that. However, not all students are concerned about this. 

“I really don’t care, I’m not an avid coffee drinker nor tea drinker so it doesn’t affect me,” fellow sophomore and commuter Justice Vue said.

Hamline senior Lexi Borgeson recognizes the difficulties of the closures. 

“I think that this situation is hard for students who want to use their DB for breakfast and morning coffee. While short-staffing is universal right now, I do think that Hamline should try to do its best to keep things open and support its staff,” She said. 

The “@hamlineconfessions” Instagram page has featured Starbucks in three posts this month.  

“The Starbucks being closed the majority of the time is starting to wear on me,” said an anonymous quote in a March 7 post.In the comment sections, students voiced their opinions on the inconsistencies, and a new account, “@hamline_starbuck” was created to update followers when the Starbucks was open.

Student baristas were quick to explain that most of the issues this semester were due to short-staffing.

Hamline students waiting for Starbucks to be open. Starbucks is located in Anderson Student Center on the first floor. (Chetha Ny)

Hamline first-year Bailey Winden has worked at the campus Starbucks since the beginning of the fall 2021 semester. He told the Oracle that throughout his time as a barista, a lack of proper training, miscommunication and a manager quitting led to the closures that students were noticing.

“We had a situation where most of the employees felt unsupported and frustrated,” Winden said. “We had way too much on our plates to have been being paid minimum wage for a work study.” 

When baristas began considering a strike and many threatened to quit, Dining Services Director Courtney Cawthon called a mandatory meeting. Cawthon could not be reached for comment on this article.

As a result of that meeting, Winden reports that the Starbucks will be “re-building.” Changes include a better schedule, an emphasis on professionalism and retraining in reducing food waste. They are shifting to asking for customers’ names, in an effort to create community and remember their customers’ orders.

Students may see unexpected closures at Starbucks moving forward. In the past, Winden says that shifts had been understaffed, but moving forward, that will change. 

“From now on we will only be opening when at least four employees are on the floor,” Winden said. “Meaning that throughout the day we may be closing at random times to wait for more people’s shifts to start. It’s way too much for only two people to be running everything especially in a rush.”

After addressing the issues, Winden feels much better, more respected and better equipped. 

“Expect a lot of good things coming soon,” Winden said, “And hopefully correctly-made drinks.”